Last month, I had the distinct privilege of representing FBLA as an intern at the National Association of Parliamentarians’s Biennial Convention. I worked as a page at their perfectly engineered business sessions and shared a wonderful meal with two of the authors of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. I had the chance to attend several engaging workshops and got to know the national parliamentarians from other Career and Technical Student Organizations. I witnessed the official announcement of the 11th edition of RONOR and the election of new NAP officers, and even participated in my first live auction!
I was tremendously impressed by the efficiency of the NAP business sessions, especially considering that a significant bylaws revision was on the agenda for the weekend. Volunteers at a “motion table” screened and organized motions before they were put on the floor, and we pages carried all messages and motion forms around the room in order to avoid traffic jams between delegates. The parliamentarian had prepared the chair with pages upon pages of scripts for possible scenarios, and electronic voting procedures streamlined the decision-making process. I can only hope that my own meetings might someday be that efficient!
Another enlightening part of the experience was speaking to all of the convention delegates. They came from Florida, Hawaii, and everywhere in between (I even got to meet the only registered parliamentarian in Asia!) and ranged in age from their early twenties to the more than ninety years of author Henry M. Robert III. They all had different levels of experience with parliamentary procedure, and vastly different careers; some volunteer as parliamentarians in their spare time, while others have turned “parli pro” into full-time careers.
Networking with these remarkable individuals taught me that no matter where I live, no matter what I study in college, and no matter what career path I end up taking, there will always be a use for parliamentary procedure in my life – it doesn’t end here!
If you’re interested in attending a NAP event (I would highly recommend it!) you can find more information here: http://parliamentarians.org/eventlist.php. They even offer a student scholarship for certain conventions!